Special Reports

Last updated: 6 october, 2009 - 16:23 GMT

1989 Timeline

11 January: Reagan's farewell

After eight years in office, President Ronald Reagan leaves the White House to make way for his Republican successor George Bush.

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19 January: Moscow's nuclear withdrawal

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze announces plans to withdraw a tenth of its nuclear warheads from Eastern Europe.

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20 January: Bush inauguration

The new leader, President George Bush, promises to champion western democracy, and Russia seems ready to do business with him.

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6 February: Solidarity enters talks

Poland's government opens talks with Solidarity, Lech Walesa's free trade union movement banned in 1981.

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15 February: Soviet Army leaves Kabul

After nine years of fighting rebels in Afghanistan, the Russians withdraw their troops from the country.

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24 February: Estonia flies the flag

Estonia's historic independence day is restored as the national flag flies for the first time in half a century.

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26 March: Russia holds elections

The first free elections are held to a brand new Congress of People's Deputies, and a radical performer, Boris Yeltsin, is about to make his mark.

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2 April: Gorbachev visits Cuba

Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Havana to meet with Fidel Castro. Cuba's cosy relationship as a client state of the Soviet Union begins to unravel.

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4 April: Poland's round table talks end

An historic agreement means that Solidarity will at last be recognised by the communist government.

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6 April: Gorbachev visits London

Mikhail Gorbachev makes a stopover in London and receives a hero's welcome from the British people and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

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9 April: Soviet clashes in Georgia

Violent clashes between troops and protesters in the heart of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, leave 20 people dead.

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15 May: Gorbachev visits China

It is the first Sino-Russian summit in thirty years. Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Beijing at the height of the pro-democracy campaign, making the meeting difficult.

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4 June: Poland holds elections

The first free elections in the communist bloc are underway in Poland, with Solidarity the clear favourites.

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5 June: Victory for Solidarity

Solidarity claims a remarkable success in Poland's elections. The largest Soviet "satellite" in Eastern Europe now has a non-communist head of government, Lech Walesa.

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16 June: Hungary reburies Imre Nagy

Over 100,000 attend a reburial service for the executed former prime minster, Imre Nagy, who paid the ultimate price for opposing Moscow three decades earlier.

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9 July: Bush visits Poland

George Bush arrives in Warsaw to offer encouragement and support for reform - while Poland is looking for economic aid.

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12 July: Bush travels to Hungary

The US President grants Hungary Most Favoured Nation trading status in a landmark speech at Karl Marx University in Budapest.

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19 August: Freedom begins with a picnic

A picnic is organised on the Hungary-Austria border, allowing hundreds of people to leave communist Eastern Europe.

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23 August: Baltic states link hands

More than two million people across Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia link hands to form an unbroken 400-mile-long human chain in protest of Soviet rule.

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24 August: Poland appoints Mazowiecki

Solidarity member Tadeusz Mazowiecki is sworn in as prime minister, making Poland the first European country to be governed by a non-communist leader in 40 years.

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10 September: East Germans go West

Hungary opens a section of its border with Austria and thousands of East Germans, already taking refuge, cross over to the West. Almost 600 people leave after the first day.

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21 September: Russia introduces 'Sinatra' doctrine

The Soviet government jokingly describes its policy of allowing the break-up of the communist bloc as the Frank Sinatra Doctrine, based on his popular song My Way.

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25 September: Old enemies agree weapon cuts

As the Cold War ends, the United States and Russia enter a disarmament agreement to end their chemical weapons programmes.

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3 October: East Germany stems exodus to the West

East German government bans travel to Czechoslovakia, sparking a peaceful protest in Leipzig's Church of Saint Nicholas.

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7 October: East Germany celebrates 40 years

Mikhail Gorbachev joins hardline leader Erich Honecker for the 40th anniversary of the founding of East Germany.

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9 October: Thousands march in Leipzig

Anti-government demonstrations develop into mass protests in East Germany. In Leipzig, over 70,000 people take to the streets. Two weeks later as many as 320,000 are protesting.

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23 October: Hungary declares new republic

Hungary announces that it is no longer a communist state, 33 years after the country's failed revolution against Russia.

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4 November: Thousands march in Berlin

Up to one million people gather at Alexanderplatz in East Berlin to demonstrate for freedom and democracy.

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7 November: East German government resigns

The entire East German politburo resigns. But Egon Krenz, Communist Party leader, remains in place.

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8 November: East Germany lifts restrictions

East German government spokesman Gunter Shabowski makes a remarkable announcement.

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9 November: Berlin Wall falls

East German travel restrictions are lifted and people are now free to travel to the West. Within hours, thousands descend on the wall.

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10 November: First taste of freedom

The day after the Berlin Wall opens, East Berliners are finally free to enter West Germany.

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11 November: Demolition of the wall begins

Crowds cheer on both sides of wall as bulldozers demolish the wall, reinstate old roads and open new border crossings.

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12 November: Reunification is ruled out

East Germany is set on the path to reunification with West Germany, but voices on both sides air caution against it so early.

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14 November: Czechs go west

Czechoslovakian citizens no longer need exit visas to go to the west. But many fear those who leave will not be allowed to return.

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15 November: Walesa addresses Congress

Solidarity leader Lech Walesa receives a rapturous reception in Washington. But the former shipyard worker warns that without aid Poland is heading for catastrophe.

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20 November: Velvet Revolution

A week of mass protests erupts across Czechoslovakia. Known as the Velvet Revolution, 200,000 people gather in Prague's central Wenceslas Square.

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24 November: Czech party resigns

Communist rule in Czechoslovakia crumbles and the entire politburo resigns after a week of protests. Alexander Dubcek, the hero of the Prague Spring returns home.

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27 November: General strike is held

The Czechs observe a two-hour strike to demonstrate the success of the Velvet Revolution.

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3 December: The Cold War is over

In a historic meeting, the two super powers, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev declare the Cold War over.

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11 December: Czech leader resigns

President Gustav Husak makes way for the first non-communist government since the 1948 Communist Putsch.

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16 December: Romanians revolt

Romanian security forces in Timisoara open fire on protesters campaigning against the harassment of a respected local priest. This marks the start of a short but bloody revolution.

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21 December: Ceausescu's final speech

Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu tries to crush the uprising, but the hardline leader is jeered as he makes his final speech in Bucharest.

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22 December: Ceausescu flees

The Romanian leader and his wife, Elena, disappear as violence engulfs Bucharest.

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22 December: Brandenburg Gate opens

Berlin's famous landmark reopens after 28 years. Amid the celebrations, a stampede breaks out for the first people to get through the gate.

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23 December: Romania battles on

Fighting continues as forces loyal to the ousted Nicolae Ceausescu regime stage a bitter counter-revolution. There are rumours that Ceausescu has been found.

25 December: Ceausescu executed

The Romanian president and his wife, Elena, have been captured and are executed by firing squad, after a trial at a military base lasting two hours.

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28 December: Havel becomes Czech president

Writer and political activist Vaclav Havel is elected president by the members of the Federal Assembly - ending the year on a high note.

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